Today let’s take an in-depth look at the Muay Thai stance – a corner stone technique in this brutal martial art.
You can tell a lot about the quality of a fighter, by the stance he or she adopts.
How they will defend, attack and move, will all be reflected in the stance.
Even, one way to instantly recognize a Thaiboxer is by his fighting stance.
It’s just one of those things that ‘pops out’.
Like a cat, coiled and ready to strike its prey.
The Muay Thai Stance
You can tell a lot about the quality of a fighter, by the stance he or she adopts. How they will defend, attack and move, will all be reflected in the stance
One way to instantly recognize a Thaiboxer is by his fighting stance. It’s just one of those things that ‘pops out’. Like a cat, coiled and ready to strike its prey.
Today let’s take an in-depth look at the Muay Thai stance.
#1 - The Basics
The Muay Thai stance is very similar to the generic kickboxing stance. To get into the fighting stance follow these simple steps:
- Take a single step forward with your lead leg (The distance between your feet will be the same as your shoulder width).
- Point you lead foot in front of you, and your rear foot away from you at a 90 degree angle.
- Bend your knees slightly and shift your weight to your rear leg.
- For your guard, raise your arms until your fists are in line with your eyebrows.
- Pull your elbows close to your body. (You are now looking ‘through’ your guard).
- Arch your back outwards (sort of like your slouching).
You’ll notice that this stance isn’t too different from the ones you would learn in other self-defense systems. There are a couple of minor tweaks that make the Muay Thai stance unique though.
#2 - The High Guard
Most martial arts teach you to place your hands near your chin or cheeks. The eyebrows is a bit high. In fact, when wearing Muay Thai gloves, this even obstructs your vision.
Why would Thaiboxers think this is a good idea?
Simple, it’s all got to do with philosophy. Muay Thai doesn’t encourage retreating. It’s not warrior like, and it gives an opponent (and the crowd) the wrong impression of you.
A lack of backward movement also means a lack of evasion as a whole. You’re not going to see a lot of slipping and dodging in Muay Thai, mainly because those techniques are not practiced much.
The high guard serves as an automatic shield, defending you from any on-coming attacks.
Blocking damage with your forearms is the main defensive tactic in Muay Thai. This results in three things.
One, you don’t need to think so much about defense and movement. When the high kick comes, you’re going to block it with your arm, all with minimum movement and effort.
Two, because you’re paying less attention to defense you’re putting more effort into attacking and countering.
Three, you’ll need to make sure that your arms are hardened enough to absorb all the damage coming their way. The approach isn’t perfect, but it’s very practical.
#3 - The Curved Back
In no other martial art is the curving of the back so pronounced as in Muay Thai. Doing this makes you a smaller target.
Your guard will cover more of your torso, protecting you from body shots. The distance that your legs need to travel to check (block) kicks is also reduced.
Your body is coiled up like a spring. Once the tension is released into a strike, it is bound to be quicker and more powerful.
In general it is a good practice to curve your back somewhat. Top boxers (like Floyd Mayweather) also tend to do this.
Recommended post: How to Transition from Muay Thai to Boxing Successfully
#4 - Weight On The Back Foot
Thaiboxers place most of their weight on their back foot. In its strongest incarnation, this results in a cat like stance, were practically no weight is put on the front foot.
You don’t see this all the time, but it tends to be a habit Thaiboxers have.
This is done because Muay Thai favors kicking.
The fighters take the stance in anticipation of round-house kicks. The easiest way to block these kicks is by raising your leg and letting your opponent strike your shin. This is what you call ‘checking’.
Putting weight on the rear leg lets you use your front leg for defense and counter kicking. It’s also a lot easier to push kick with your front leg from this stance.
#5 - The Bounce
If you watch a Muay Thai fight you’ll notice a peculiar thing. Some fighters bounce… a lot. Like, totally exaggerated at times. This is normally accompanied by a slightly stupid look on the fighters face.
This is all about rhythm.
The bounce denotes the internal rhythm of the fighter. It’s to this beat that you move, attack and defend. Having a rhythm running through your body is one of the most important aspects of combat sports.
The Thai are smart people. As an incentive, traditional Muay Thai bouts are fought to old Thai music. This helps pace the fighters, as each round the tempo of the music increases.
The Muay Thai stance is perfect for one thing over all.
Competing in Muay Thai.
It’s not the best stance for a street fight or MMA, but for a striking match it will hold its own against any style.
Other martial artists could learn a lot from adopting certain aspects of the stance. Especially for kicks and simple defense.
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